President Lyndon Johnson launched the Great Society in the 1960’s, which included dividing the country into nineteen areas and setting up federal educational research laboratories in each one. The area that included New York State got ERIE—the Eastern Regional Institute for Education—of which my father was the assistant director.
When Richard Nixon became President, he did his best to undo the Great Society, including shutting down the federal educational labs; only three survived the cut and ERIE was not one of them. Staff of ERIE went one way and another, including Ed Leone, the chief financial officer, who became the first administrator of Plaza Nursing Home in Syracuse.
Forty years later, the Plaza Nursing Home Company still runs the place but it is now called Rosewood Heights Health Center. It has 252 beds and has been in serious shit for several years: “This facility has been designated as a Special Focus Facility (SFF) by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). This designation identifies nursing homes whose quality of care has consistently demonstrated failure to maintain compliance, as well as a history of facility practices that have resulted in harm to residents . . .There must be significant improvements . . . otherwise serious consequences can be imposed on this facility.”
Somewhere along the line, perhaps thirty years ago, the dominant hospitals in Syracuse found themselves jammed in because there weren’t enough nursing home beds available. Patients were lingering in acute care (i.e., hospitals) because there was nowhere to which to discharge them, so the Plaza Nursing Home Company issued a Certificate of Need and built the Iroquois Nursing Home, so named “to pay tribute to the Iroquois tradition of reverence for the elderly.”
(“The Iroquois also known as the Haudenosaunee or the ‘People of the Longhouse,’ are a league of several nations and tribes of indigenous people of North America. After the Iroquoian-speaking peoples of present-day central and upstate New York coalesced as distinct tribes, by the 16th century or earlier, they came together in an association known today as the Iroquois League, or the ‘League of Peace and Power.’ The Iroquois are a matrilineal society. They have clan mothers, or main women of the leagues.
(“The original Iroquois League was often known as the Five Nations, as it was composed of the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, and Seneca nations. After the Tuscarora nation joined the League in 1722, the Iroquois became known as the Six Nations.”
(This is irrelevant to nursing homes but more interesting.)
[Disclaimer: Significant portions of this blog are based on single-source informants who may be no more coherent or reliable snitches than a jar of mayonnaise, however most of them are pretty likable people so I’m going to report the information in a category I call “Approximate Truth.”]
Theoretically, the only way to get admitted to the Iroquois Nursing Home is from a participating hospital, and the only hospitals that for sure now are participating are Crouse and St. Joseph’s. It appears that both the Iroquois and Rosewood exist under the Plaza Company, and Dr. Paul Kronenberg, CEO of Crouse Hospital, appoints people to the board, having more-or-less recently appointed Dr. Mickey Lebowitz, head quality guy at Crouse, and Barbara Dipola (?), director of Care Coordination likewise. Rosewood has recently acquired a new director and fired twenty-five employees. It’s a start.
This is all by way of introducing the fact that yesterday I moved from Crouse Hospital to the Iroquois Nursing Home.
The Iroquois has four floors and 160 beds, the first floor being for people with Alzheimer’s or dementia, the second for rehabilitation, and the third and fourth for long-term or palliative care. I am here for palliative care but in a single room on the rehab floor, which is an act of grace because it puts me with people who are cognitively competent: they are going to get better and go home. The doctor, who came to see me without having read the referral note, assured me that they would have me home in no time, which was a rather startling declaration, considering everything.
My room is pleasant and its single large window may face west; if it ever stops raining and the sun comes out then we will know for sure. Meanwhile, I have a view of one twenty-five-foot evergreen, a lot of fifteen-foot deciduous trees and one telephone pole. The room has a high-tech television, which I do not understand, and connects me to the Internet. If you want to know weird, consider a computer in a nursing home, where the average age of the residents is 287.
The large clock on the wall does not tick. The one at Crouse did, which was rather comforting. The bed has fewer controls, which I appreciate. The beds at Crouse were the design product of a bunch of morons who put the most-used button—the raise-the-head-of-the-bed button—at shoulder height. This might be convenient for Thalidomide babies who had fingers growing out of their shoulders, but was ridiculous for the rest of the population. What did the beds have at finger-tip level? Buttons for radio and television, which were not connected to radio or television service. [Note to Bob: There are morons!]
In the room at the Iroquois, the least attractive feature is that across from the bed there is a sink with a mirror over it. How much time would you like to spend looking at a bed-ridden sick fat lady? Yeah, me neither. Between my room and the next, there is a room with a toilet and another sink. Who really needs two sinks? The showers are located somewhere off-site and away down the hall.
The Iroquois, like St. Joseph’s Hospital, has strings tied to the over-bed lights. The strings are thin, break frequently, and cannot be found in the dark. Crouse Hospital replaced the strings with bright blue plastic thingies that were half an inch wide. You always could see and grab them.
I kinda-sorta miss Crouse, where I spent more than a month. It’s a lousy vacation site, but if you need acute care then it’s the best. I needed something between a vacation and acute care, which I suppose is why I’m now at the Iroquois.